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Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents
• Record Type: Safety Standards for Stairways and Ladders Used in the Construction Industry
• Section: 2
• Title: Section 2 - II. Hazards Involved

II. Hazards Involved

Fall accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities continue to occur at construction sites despite the promulgation of the OSHA Construction Standards in 1971. Examination of available data indicates that these accidents are primarily the result of noncompliance with existing OSHA standards, and that the current standards, in general, properly address the stairway and ladder hazards confronted by construction workers. Nevertheless, upon reviewing compliance problems and public comments received since 1972, OSHA believes that the regulations addressing stairways and ladders need to be updated, reformatted, and clarified to provide employers with appropriate guidance and to make the standards easier to use and understand. OSHA believes that revision of these provisions will significantly increase employer compliance.

Precise accident data for the entire construction industry are not available. However, based upon the 1987 BLS data that have been compiled, OSHA estimates that the annual number of injuries associated with falls from surfaces covered under subpart X is about 24,882.

Although specific accident ratios cannot be projected for the 4.5 million construction workers potentially covered by subpart X, OSHA prepared the following statistical estimates to support proposed subpart X.

- On a yearly basis, OSHA estimated that as many as four fatalities, 5,360 impact injuries, and 1,900 sprain or strain injuries occur on stairways used in construction (summary of Bureau of Labor Statistics data Exs. 3-15 and 3-16); and

- 65 percent of those injured in stairway accidents require medical treatment  (Ex. 3-3, p. 150).

In a Bureau of Labor Statistics study of 1,400 ladder accidents that resulted in injuries (Ex. 3-5), the following findings were made:

- 23 percent of the accidents were in construction;

- 42 percent of those injured were working on the ladder when the accident occurred;

- 66 percent of those injured had not been trained in how to inspect ladders for defects before using them;

- 4 percent of the ladders involved in the accidents did not have uniformly spaced steps;

- 19 percent of the ladders involved in the accidents had one or more defects;

- 39 percent of the ladders involved in the accidents had not been extended three feet above the landing level;

- 53 percent of the non-self-supporting ladders had not been secured or braced at the bottom, and 61 percent had not been secured at the top; and

- 53 percent of the ladders involved in the accidents broke during use.

More recent information prepared for the final regulatory impact analysis (see section IV, below) indicates that a considerable number of accidents still occur. The following summarizes findings made in that analysis:

- On a yearly basis, OSHA estimated that as many as 36 fatalities and 24,882 injuries occurred due to falls from stairways and ladders used in construction.

- On a yearly basis, OSHA estimated that there were 11,570 lost workday injuries and 13,312 non-lost workday injuries due to falls from stairways and ladders used in construction.

Based on its analysis of the above data, and its field experience enforcing construction standards, the Agency has determined that employees using ladders and stairways in construction are exposed to a significant risk of harm. In addition, the above data suggest that compliance with the revised provisions would have prevented accidents more effectively than compliance with the existing standards. Consequently, OSHA believes that the revised standards are necessary to improve employee protection. OSHA has determined that the revised provisions in the final rule provide clearer guidance regarding employers' duties and the appropriate measures for compliance.

For a further discussion of accident rates and significance of risk, see section IV, Regulatory Impact Assessment and Regulatory Flexibility Analysis.

Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents

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